The Best Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week: September-October 2 | Phoenix New Times

The Best Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

Time to make some plans.
Time for some roller derby.
Time for some roller derby. Melissa Fossum
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It's time to make some plans. This week, you can find your zen at Sunrise Tai Chi, feed your rebellious side during Banned Books Reading, or cheer on the Arizona Derby Dames as they kick off the season. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times’ calendar.

‘Growing Up With Marty Robbins’

Don’t waste your precious time off on doctor’s appointments or attending some bland children’s recital; save it for an event like “Growing Up With Marty Robbins.” Culling from conversations with the singer’s twin sister, Mamie, journalist Andrew Means delves into Robbins’ rich life, painting a portrait from his beginnings in Tucson to the stages of Austin City Limits and beyond. You could read Means’ book by the same name, but this is a tale worth hearing firsthand, especially when you’d normally be hard at work on spreadsheets.

The talk is free and takes place from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Thursday, September 26, at the Sunnyslope Historical Society, 737 East Hatcher Road. A short lunch and listening party will follow, so that’s even more reason to attend. Chris Coplan

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Tai Chi pairs well with desert blooms.
Desert Botanical Garden

Sunrise Tai Chi

Couple slow movements that flow seamlessly together with relaxing breathing techniques and you’ve got the makings of a gentle, low-impact form of fitness. The ancient Chinese practice of tai chi is hailed for improving physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Give it a try at Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 North Galvin Parkway, where they do both sunrise and sunset sessions amid all the splendor of the Sonoran Desert. The Sunrise Tai Chi class on Thursday, September 26, runs from 8 to 9 a.m. It’s a refreshing alternative to hopping on an exercise bike inside your local gym, and a creative way to get back in touch with nature. The class costs $20. Lynn Trimble

Arizona Diamondbacks

The only thing that’s been certain with the Arizona Diamondbacks this year is that nothing’s been certain. And their final homestand of the season at Chase Field, 401 East Jefferson Street, this weekend against the San Diego Padres is proof.

As of this writing, the D-backs are in the hunt for a National League wild-card berth but are several games behind the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals in the standings. If Arizona can close the gap before their three-game series against the Padres, which starts on Friday, September 27, the D-backs have a chance to clinch a wild card spot at home. If not, it’s gonna be a season-ending series between a pair of also-rans. Here’s hoping it’s the former instead of the latter.

First pitch on September 27 is at 6:40 p.m. Tickets are $16 to $190. (The remaining games of the series will take place on Saturday, September 28, and Sunday, September 29.) Benjamin Leatherman

This is where the cool kids will be reading from banned books.
Lynn Trimble

Banned Books Reading

Maybe you were one of those kids who never liked doing what you were told. Odds are, you never outgrew your rebellious streak, which means you’re not a big fan of people who try to tell others what they should or should not be reading. Celebrate the freedom of self-expression at Alwun House, 1204 East Roosevelt Street, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday, September 27.

That’s when the LGBTQ+ History Project will be holding a Banned Books Reading featuring excerpts from several books that have been banned in school or community settings. Last year, several of the most challenged books featured LGBTQ content, according to the American Library Association. The Phoenix event takes place during the national Banned Books Week, designed to fight censorship and support free expression. Lynn Trimble

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Checking out the detail in one of Abe Zucca's paintings.
Nicole Underwood

Beyond Jazz

Expect plenty of jazz music in Roosevelt Row during a four-day event called Beyond Jazz, which celebrates the 80th anniversary of Blue Note Records. The lineup includes an exhibition featuring album cover designs spanning eight decades, plus jazz-inspired works by several local artists, including Tato Caraveo, Danielle Hacche, Joe Hunsacker, Holly Pyle, Eunique Yazzie, and Abe Zucca.

The opening reception takes place from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, September 28, at Evolve Gallery, 918 North Second Street. The exhibit was curated by Nicole Underwood and Mike Pfister, and the opening will also include live listening stations and music spun by DJ Mitch Freedom. The show continues through Friday, October 4. Lynn Trimble

Evil Dead: The Musical

Musicals are generally hit and miss. For every badass The Phantom of the Opera, there are 1,000 awful renditions of Cats. But if singing ghouls and anthropomorphic cats aren’t your bag, then there’s always Evil Dead: The Musical. Yes, Sam Raimi’s horror masterpiece has been adapted to the stage, a musical encapsulation of all three films (Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness) complete with joke-telling demons, decapitations, and ample housewares-turned-weaponry. Some of the songs are even quite catchy — if you can manage to sing along through the bloody mist and tortured wailing.

The harmonious horror begins on Friday, September 27, at the Brelby Theatre Company, 7154 North 58th Drive in Glendale. Dates run through Sunday, October 6, and for tickets and more info, visit Chris Coplan

Part of Such and Champ Styles' mural for SanTan Brewing.
Lynn Trimble

SanTan Brewing Oktoberfest

Beer lovers converge on Munich, Germany, each fall, raising heavy steins as they share a hearty toast with a single word: Prost! You’ll have plenty of Oktoberfest events to choose from right here in the Valley, including several with ties to local breweries. The two-day SanTan Brewing Oktoberfest kicks off in Chandler on Friday, September 27, from 5 to 11 p.m.

Head to Dr. A.J. Chandler Park, 178 East Commonwealth Avenue in Chandler, to enjoy a night filled with Oktoberfest traditions from polka music to brat eating competitions. The festival also features live music, including Friday night headliner The Boogie Knights, and amusement rides. General admission is $10 on Friday, when kids under age 12 get in free. Lynn Trimble

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Long live Selena.
Michelle Sasonov

Selena Dance Party

For residents of the Southwest, the late ’80s and early ’90s teen pop of Tiffany and Debbie Gibson always came second to another superstar: Selena. Whether singing in English or Spanish, her charm and effervescence drew in listeners hook, line, and sinker. Given that most folks in these here parts need little reason to celebrate her rich legacy, why not spend a Saturday night honoring the Queen of Tejano by dancing the night away? Don’t have any rhythm or just an abundance of left feet? Who cares — just smile and shimmy accordingly.

This totally free, 21-and-over dance party runs from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday, September 28, at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue. Chris Coplan

Drag Story Hour Arizona

Asides from Pixar films and the occasional episode of Doc McStuffins, there’s a dearth of great entertainment options that engage kids and adults alike. Unless, of course, you’ve ever attended a reading by Drag Story Hour Arizona, in which fabulous and fantastic drag queens delight young and old alike with tales of whimsy and magic before leading groups through arts and crafts and song and dance. Sure, it’s early on a Saturday morning, and you’ve got to get the kiddies some costumes, but consider the wonders it’ll do for both your inner and actual child.

Storytime is from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 28, at Bookmans, 1056 South Country Club Road in Mesa, with this month’s event focused on banned books. Chris Coplan

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Work hard, play harder.
Melissa Fossum

Arizona Derby Dames

Sure, football’s now in full gear, and baseball’s sticking around till October. But if you like your sports with theatricality and a heaping helping of violence, there’s no smarter choice than roller derby. The Arizona Derby Dames kick off their 15th season of wheeled mayhem with a showdown between the Doomsday Valkyries and the Bombshells, followed by a mashup bout with the Minor Assaults junior squad. After all the body-checking and sick evades, there’s an after-party where former enemies share epic tales of battle (and moderately priced cocktails).

The season commences at 5 p.m. on Saturday, September, 28, at the Hall of Dames, 2417 West McDowell Road. The after-party, meanwhile, goes down at PAZ Cantina, 330 East Roosevelt Street. Chris Coplan

Haunted Swap Meet

It’d be easy to mourn the loss of Metrocenter as a once-proud center of local commerce. But if it’s going to become a desolate ghost town, better to make the most of it with a haunted swap meet. For the uninitiated, it’s like a regular swap meet, only all the trinkets, wares, clothes, home goods, and other delights are all Halloween themed. And if that weren’t enough to pull in spirits faster than one of those traps from Ghostbusters, there’s also a raffle, live entertainment, and a genuine hearse display.

The haunting happens from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 28, at Metrocenter, 9617 North Metro Parkway West. Parking and attendance are free. Chris Coplan

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Sometimes you just need a little nature time.

Night Walks

Maybe you love the idea of exploring nature after dark, but you’re not a big fan of hiking off the beaten path. Check out the Night Walks hosted by the South Mountain Environmental Education Center, where you can spend some stress-free time strolling along a mile-long sidewalk amid all sorts of desert plants. They’re doing a walk from 6 to 7:45 p.m. on Saturday, September 28. It starts at the center, which is located at 10409 South Central Avenue, and it costs $4.

The center will provide the flashlights for the walk, and park rangers leading the walk will also have UV flashlights on hand to help illuminate scorpions located off the trail, as well as scanners to help pick any bat activity. You might even hear a coyote howling in the distance. Wear comfortable clothes and closed-toe shoes, and bring plenty of water. It’s best to register online before you go, so the center knows how many people to expect. Lynn Trimble

Let's roll.
Melissa Fossum

Scattered Melodies

There’s a reason the annual Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival in Las Vegas is a long-running success. Few things go together like raucous music and the faux violence of knocking down pins with a graphite ball. Phoenicians now have their chance to indulge as local musical chameleons Scattered Melodies host their very own bowling tournament. Come for the fierce rivalry and odors of a fully packed bowling alley, but stay for a rollicking performance from Scattered Melodies and friends. Don’t strike out on a good time, turkeys.

The tourney runs from 4:30 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 28, at Let It Roll Bowl, 8925 North 12th Street. Tickets are just $20, which includes two games, the performance, and a sweet raffle ticket. Chris Coplan

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Getting that mythical vibe from Yuko Yabuki's artwork.
Lynn Trimble

Storytelling: Myths, Maps, and Legends

Mythic scenes painted by Tempe artist Yuko Yabuki anchor a new exhibition inside The Gallery at Tempe Center for the Arts, where the mythology-infused art show inspired an event called Storytelling: Myths, Maps, and Legends. That’s where Joe Ray, Kyle Mitchell, and Marilyn Torres will be sharing legends and cultural mythologies starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 28.

The center is located at 700 West Rio Salado in Tempe, where you’ll find plenty of inspiration for thinking about the ways mythologies have informed your journey, from the tranquil waters of Tempe Town Lake to artist Jen Urso’s complex map exploring the many facets of Phoenix life. The free event is part of the center’s Edge Happy Hour series. Arrive by 5:30 p.m. to sign up if you have a story to share. Lynn Trimble

UNO Fiesta Tournament

Perhaps you’ve held a newborn or watched the sunset over the Grand Canyon. Yet no person’s ever truly lived until experiencing the pure majesty of stacking a Draw Two card atop a Draw Four to annihilate your competition in a game of UNO. Now, take your skills to the pro level with the UNO Fiesta Tournament. It features three levels of play: casual/fun, proper tourney, and drinking game. The evening’s champion will go home with, among other things, a championship belt and some UNO-branded swag. Everyone else will have to enjoy well shots and food and drink specials.

The tournament runs from 4 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, September 29, at Bevvy Uptown, 5600 North Seventh Street. It’s $10 for tournament play, $7 for the drinking game, and $5 just for fun. Chris Coplan

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See new works by José Andrés Girón in Chandler.
Vision Gallery

‘Encenas de Mexico’

Phoenix artist José Andrés Girón, whose work you’ve likely seen on a collaborative mural for the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center in downtown Phoenix, seeks to heighten the viewer’s connection to humanity with his colorful paintings conveying the richness of Hispanic and Latino cultures. Through subjects ranging from culinary creations to performance traditions, the artist presents iconic images of daily Mexican life.

See his newest body of work during a solo exhibition titled “Encenas de Mexico,” which continues through Saturday, October 5 at The Gallery at Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue in Chandler. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, September 30. Admission is free. Lynn Trimble


Seth Rollins and Becky “The Man” Lynch have had a tremendous 2019 thus far — and it started with some big wins for both WWE superstars here in the Valley.

Back in January, Rollins and Lynch, the WWE’s reigning power couple, respectively won the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches when the event of the same name took place at Chase Field. Since then, they’ve both claimed gold at this year’s WrestleMania (he claimed the WWE’s Universal Title while she won both the Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championships) and conquered plenty of worthy opponents.

The pair will both be in action when the WWE returns to downtown Phoenix this week. Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 East Jefferson Street, will host a broadcast of WWE Raw on Monday, September 30. Other superstars scheduled to appear include Baron Corbin, Lacey Evans, Ricochet, Braun Strowman, and AJ Styles.

The action starts at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 to $225. Benjamin Leatherman

Throwback to a previous Christy Puetz exhibit at Practical Art.
Lynn Trimble

‘who I think it was’

A trio of prickly pear pads sits atop the head of a mythic creature in one of Christy Puetz’s newest sculptures, created using thousands of seed beads that channel her finesse for giving all things strange a playful yet sophisticated twist. It’s part of her latest exhibition at Practical Art, 5070 North Central Avenue, which also includes guest artist Carol Saker.

The free exhibit, titled “who I think it was,” includes a series of works based on memory. Puetz says it’s all about remembering and forgetting — and “making stuff up in between.” Your first chance to see it is Tuesday, October 1, when Practical Art is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you’re inspired to see more of Puetz’s work, head to Burton Barr Central Library, where she’s installed several large-scale beaded animals near the entrance to the children’s area as part of a public art project called IN FLUX. Lynn Trimble

Felicia Day

For nerds, Felicia Day is like Audrey Hepburn and Meryl Streep all rolled into one, having appeared in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, and Eureka, among other uber-dweeby franchises. This time around, though, Day’s out in support of her latest book, Embrace Your Weird, in which she explores creative passions and making art the center of your daily life. Could you still ask her questions about, say, Charlie Bradbury’s favorite sandwich? Sure, just as long as you don’t hold up the line.

Day’s signing takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, October 1, at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock Drive in Tempe. Tickets are $18.38 for admission and one signed book copy (subsequent books are extra). Chris Coplan

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Frederick Aldama is an expert in Latinx pop culture.

Real and Reel Latinx Lives Matter

Frederick Aldama, a scholar whose expertise includes pop culture and Latinx identity, will be talking about the intersection of mainstream pop culture and Latinx experience during a free lecture titled Real and Reel Latinx Lives Matter. It’s happening from 3 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, October 2, inside Pima Room 230 at the Memorial Union on ASU’s Tempe campus, 301 East Orange Street, Tempe.

Aldama will explore contemporary Latinx-created pop culture, and the many ways it “complicates and enriches our understanding of Latinx identity and experience,” and share a model for “understanding Latinx subjects as active transformers of the world.” He’s authored or edited more than three dozen books, by the way, including the 2018 title Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics. Lynn Trimble
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